Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Minority Leader Watson Duke is calling upon Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles to come up with a plan to ensure that business places are protected during flooding. Additionally, he is calling for insurance from the State for all fishermen.
Duke was speaking during a Facebook live video on Sunday, mere hours after heavy rains and strong gusts associated with Tropical Storm Karen wreaked havoc in Tobago, triggering widespread flooding and damage to residential and commercial properties.
Duke, the political leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) and electoral representative for Roxborough/Delaford said, “We want to call upon the THA and ask the THA, in particular, what policies they have in place to ensure that business persons are protected during these periods. What type of insurance, what type of support they have in place to ensure should it happen (again) by some strange stroke of (bad) luck, how can they be protected by the policies and the regulations of the Government...What is in place?”
He noted that flooding in the capital city, Scarborough was no new development.
“Year after year, Scarborough has been suffering with floods.
“Scarborough is supposed to be one of the areas that is highly maintained, one of the areas where flooding is prone – just as Port of Spain; the THA, under Chief Secretary Charles, ought to have in place a system to ensure that all the water courses are properly cleaned on a regular basis. So, whenever there is a flood, there is no impediment, no debris to block the drains and cause a backup of water.”
Duke said that he was additionally saddened that no mention was made of helping the fishermen on Sunday.
“He spent the entire day at TEMA (Tobago Emergency Management Agency) micromanaging, preventing TEMA from doing their work, that’s what he did.
“Eight boats were lost in Roxborough – their engines. How do you protect these fishermen? On Tuesday, these fishermen were expected to have a fisherman day in Roxborough, it was supposed to be a big event, a lot of planning went into it; even the THA would have contributed some paltry something, some small money towards that. These fishermen now have lost their boats, how could they celebrate a fishing event in a real way when there is so much lost, there is so much pain, there is so much heartbreak. How does the THA see itself as softening the blow, intervening in and ensuring that what was planned for Republic Day in Roxborough comes off nice.”
On Monday, Charles and a team from TEMA visited affected fishermen in Roxborough who relayed their problems.
Duke said all fishermen should be compensated and an insurance package taken out for the future.
“We are recommending that the State provides a 'soft' insurance for all fishermen so that their boats and their engines can be insured. We’re also calling upon the THA to go into the contingency fund that is used for disasters and ensure that each of these fishermen who have suffered loss are properly compensated.”
Duke, in his Sunday video, said the Chief Secretary must “stop pretending he is an expert in weather conditions.”
He added, “Don’t go on the TV and put on no jacket as if you were up and down in the rain pretending to people that you so care, saying you’re in TEMA since 9am, maybe you should have got up and go out into the streets and ensure that persons, especially the most vulnerable like our fishermen, those persons are to be protected. We know that the storm would have attacked the waterways more than anything else.”